posts / 🧶What to do with those gauge squares

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🧶What to do with those gauge squares

Visible Mending, directed by Samantha Moore, © BFI / MediaActive Projects 2023

I first met Lorna Hamilton Brown during Knit Stars Season 6.

Often when we film our Knit Stars Masterclasses, we’ll arrange for another expert to be present on set with the Star, to provide an extra set of eyes and to act as additional moral support for the Star during filming.

Lorna was Jeanette Sloan’s choice for this important role – made even more important because, right in the middle of planning her Season 6 workshop, Jeanette had suffered the sudden loss of her beloved husband, Sam.

Credit for above two photos from Jeanette’s workshop filming: Sam Sloan.
Lorna and her important work had been on my radar for awhile. She has been called “The Banksy of knitting” for her use of the medium in social commentary. 

This past week, one of Lorna’s latest projects came across my feed and I knew right away it was something that our readers needed to see…It’s called #TensionBirds.

Visible Mending, directed by Samantha Moore, © BFI / MediaActive Projects 2023

The Birds are thus named as they relieve stress as well as being based on the creation of a knitted/crocheted tension square. They’re easy to make and offer a quick portable project. They help people explore materiality, aid community engagement, provide comfort and relieve stress.

“They will change the world one bird at a time,” Lorna says.

I asked Lorna about the origin of the project, and her answer was a multi-faceted “yarnstory” worth sharing here…

“In February 2016, Jane Grimshaw and Anna Winston teamed up with Hastings Supports Refugees to respond to the refugee crisis that was happening on the beaches of Greece and spread throughout Europe,” Lorna said.

“They set up the ‘Bird in the hand’  project. Birds were chosen as they are often seen as symbols of peace and hope. A cloth kit was created containing everything needed to make a bird.  These cloth birds were just big enough to fit in the palms and pockets of refugee children, providing them with comfort.”

“I was keen to support the project by making a knitted or crocheted bird that could be used in a kit, so I explored different ways to make my birds. I know people don’t always want to knit a tension square, and there’s the issue of what to do with them once they are made. To encourage people to create a tension square I decided to base my bird design on a 10 cm x 10 cm square. I made a few birds for the project but didn’t develop the idea at that time.”

Visible Mending, directed by Samantha Moore, © BFI / MediaActive Projects 2023

“Fast forward to 2017. For my final project on my Masters degree in ‘Knitted Textiles’ at the Royal College of Art, I researched the therapeutic benefits of knitting for a person’s mental health by creating what I call ‘Tension Birds’ and made the related film ‘Knitting the Blues.’ I was inspired by reading Betsan Corkhill’s book Knit for Health & Wellness. Betsan is known as a world expert on the use of therapeutic knitting for improving well-being and managing illness. She has carried out extensive research on the subject and has a website – stitchlinks.com dedicated to the subject.”

Lorna’s TensionBirds were recently featured in “Visible Mending,” an animated short film by Samantha Moore that was recently featured in the New York Times Ops-Docs series. The short documentary  explores how knitting helps us embrace life’s messy imperfections. ❤️

Visible Mending, directed by Samantha Moore, © BFI / MediaActive Projects 2023

“When Sam contacted me to see if I would be interested in being involved in the film, she said ‘Textile arts have a set of assumptions (often gender, class, or race related) that have built up around them, but I would like this film to break down those stereotypes and make a real direct human connection between the challenges we face, and a deeply felt need to create that does not fade with age.’ I say no to a lot of projects but this was one really resonated with  me,” Lorna shared.

Lorna is planning to offer in person and virtual workshops, where you can learn to make your tension / gauge swatches into Tension Birds, and also explore larger themes around knitting, community and emotion. To be kept up to date, follow Lorna on Instagram @lhamiltonbrown or contact her via her website lornahamiltonbrown.com.

To watch Samantha Moore’s charming and thought-provoking animated film, Visible Mending, click here.

This week inside our Yarniverse Membership, we’ll be releasing Beata Jezek’s workshop from Season 2, as well as the first segment of fresh “where are they now” content I filmed with Beata last week.

We’ll be talking about how her life has changed dramatically since she filmed her Knit Stars workshop…what she’s frogged and what she’s created…and teasing the next Yarniverse quarterly kit that includes (surprise!) a custom Hedgehog color on their newest luxury base.

(If you’re already a Yarniverse member, watch your email for updates! And you’re not a member yet, it’s about to get even more fun and exciting in there…so you can join in at the monthly rate, here).

And since I know you’ll ask about the adorable baby sweater in the photo above…

That’s sweet baby Freddie in “Thursday Sweater,” a pattern by Beata that’s free on Ravelry and the Hedgehog Fibres site, too.

The pattern calls for 150g for the smallest size, but I dug into the projects on Ravelry and you can probably make it from a single skein of Hedgehog Sock – or add in some fingering weight scraps or minis from your stash to make your own fade.

To get you started, we’ve put some special Hedgehog kits on sale this week – along with everything else on our site 🙂

This exclusive kit has a full skein of Hedgehog Sock plus a cute mini for contrast. It comes with a free PDF download of “Lady Whistledown,” a knit design by Louis Boria, and a crochet cowl option too.

Get the kit 20% off here, while they last.

More than a decade ago, I dubbed January “Selfish Knitting Month,” and it’s since been re-dubbed Self Care Stitching Month.

However you look at it…it’s a great time to treat yourself to a simple, meditative cast-on with a really nice yarn.

We’ve put our whole site on sale 20% off this week. And that includes everything from needles and bags, to basic yarns, all the way up to 100% cashmere.

And when it comes to cashmere, it doesn’t get much better than Clinton Hill “Bespoke.” It’s a quick-knitting worsted weight that’s been treated to make it pill-resistant. Plus, Clinton Hill makes all their patterns free with yarn purchase!

To shop our Bespoke inventory at 20% off and get some great project ideas, click here.

Crustless Pizza

This crustless pizza from TheBigMan’sWorld.com is yummy comfort food for those who are sensitive to gluten, like me! Cheesy, meaty, and easy to customize, it’s made in just ONE skillet and takes 15 minutes to make.

Ingredients  

  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey ground beef works
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 4 small mushrooms chopped
  • 1/4 cup olives slices
  • 8 slices pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese grated

Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Add the olive oil to a skillet and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the ground turkey and break apart using a rubber spatula. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until no longer pink. Stir through the Italian seasonings.
  3. Remove the skillet off the heat. Stir through the cheddar cheese. Spread the pizza sauce on top, followed by the mushrooms, olives, and pepperoni. Top with the mozzarella cheese.
  4. Place the skillet in the oven and bake the crustless pizza for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.
  5. Remove the skillet from the oven and slice into four portions and serve immediately.

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